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thrust six huge silver pieces epithets and let that carting into my hand.
"What is this? I asked. "The price of the guitar," answered Miguel, trying to escape. I gripped his sleeve.
"There are thirty pesetas here," I answered. "You promised to pay forty."
"Yes, yes," replied Miguel, "but I haven't got so much now. I'll give you the balance to-morrow."
"Aren't you tired of your tricks," I said. "Pay me the lot now and be done with it." Miguel made a gesture to his son, who came blustering
"What is this?" he shouted. "My father promised to pay forty pesetas for your guitar It's a lie why, he wouldn't do such a thing."
"But the transaction was witnessed."
"It's a lie," cried Miguel in his turn. "I promise to pay you forty pesetas? Take your money and go from here."
"Forty pesetas or nothing," I answered, getting angry and pushing the money back to them.
I have often admired the real Spanish row, a sort of hectic debate, in which passion soars upon the wings of eloquence and of vituperation. I would now have the pleasure of such an argument, merely for experiment. Besides, there's nothing like letting oneself go to improve one's command of a foreign tongue; a rage, like alcohol, loosens inhibitions. So I hunted up the choicest of my
family have the lot. Our voices became louder and louder, more and more strident our mutual abuse. Had I been serious-in England, for instance-I would long ago have had my coat off, and would have squared up to son Miguel. But in this land of hot-blooded men, in this kingdom of the knife, eloquence ruled supreme.
Our discussion was suddenly interrupted. A small man of the leber wurst variety, with a pimply nose and protuberant eyes, strode forward between us. He straddled his legs apart, cocked his straw-hat on one side, stared me in the face, and enunciated slowly and solemnly—
Engless, yes, I spik, dam." "All right, old cock; help me to boost Miguel there." "Engless, yes, dam," retorted the leber wurst.
"Try a different word," I said. That doesn't help
Dam, yes, Engless," he replied, raising his voice yet
somebody. "Ca! "Ca! He is the lishman, so rich, worry about governor of the gaol." an affair so small as five pesetas."
You know it took me a minute or two to get worked up to Miguel again; but at last I found a notion which touched him on the raw.
"I believe you sold the guitar in Granada, and having got the money want to keep it.'
"It is impossible, I presume, señor, to convince you that all Englishmen are not rich, that I am probably not so rich as Miguel. I will therefore not attempt to do so. However, let us put it on a different level. Miguel has been
"You call us thieves!" cried trying to get the better of me. Miguel indignantly.
I do not choose to be bettered.
"You called me a liar," I Eh!" reminded him.
Give him thirty-five pesetas," cried Miguel to the son.
"I won't take thirty-five," I retorted.
At this moment a rough thick-set fellow intruded himself-somebody in the village police, I believe.
"You cannot go on arguing thus," he said with authority. "If you cannot come to an agreement you must go to the judge. This can go on no longer in a public place." "Good," I answered. will go to the judge. can I find him?"
"He is walking up and down over there, under the limetrees; the man with a beard." The judge looked as if Mme. Tussaud's image of Mr Bernard Shaw had been exposed to a gentle heat, as if the wax had fused a little. Wit also was lacking in the gleam of the eye. He returned my salutations. But when I exposed my case, a line of puzzlement crossed his forehead.
"I do not understand," he said. "Why do you, an Eng
"But for so small a sum."
I loitered about for the Life would become insupportwhole afternoon, but the clerk able. "For yourself,' she did not come. That made added, "who are leaving soon, three half days wasted on there can be no consequences, Miguel's account. I stayed in but you must remember that all the next morning; still no for me who have to live here, clerk, so Miguel owed me two and for my brother-in-law, a whole days' work. At about foreigner too . . ." (José had twelve o'clock I went to beard been born ten miles away, and the judge in his own home. was thus counted foreigner in A cobbler showed me the way village estimation). into a large cool entrance-hall floored with black and white tiles surrounded with marble pillars. There was nobody about, so I went up to the first floor and rapped on the nearest door. It was opened by a fat woman with a thickly powdered face and an unwelcoming expression.
"I would see the judge," I
"Are you the foreigner?" she asked.
"You cannot see the judge. He has put himself sick.” 1 And the door was shut in my face.
During the morning I had been talking with Concha on the matter. She had been most indignant about Miguel's dishonest behaviour, had will ingly agreed to back me up, and to witness the truth. But on my return she met me with the ingratiating manner of a dog which has committed some misdemeanour impossible to keep hid. She begged my pardon, but now excused herself. The village would resent her bearing witness for a stranger.
I set her at her ease, and indeed I could do nothing else. Miguel might now be considered to hold the winning cards, with the judge a voluntary refugee in bed and the one witness recalcitrant. I had vaguely threatened the British Consul, but that was the wildest bluff. He would not disturb himself for a fool of an Englishman who didn't accept thirtyfive pesetas from an Andalucian when they were offered. Yet I did hate to confess myself beaten.
There are plenty of friendly villages in Spain. But Granada has a bad reputation, and Caldoz isn't a friendly village. It is talkative, though. Heavens, in that little plaza before the posada the voices cease not night or day, but the folk hold aloof from the visitor. The trades-people have become modernised to the extent that they take no interest in one, and even the old woman who fries breakfast batter buñuelos in the market - square never responded to my advances. I had made one friend, the chemist. He had called upon me
1 Se ha puso enfermo.
almost at the beginning of my stay. He was introduced as Don Enrico the Apothecary, and he further explained himself by saying that he believed that he was the only person in the village who could understand what I was up to. Don Enrico, in fact, was a painter of considerable talent-a talent rendered useless by appalling taste. He had studied in the Art School at Granada, but latterly had turned his attention to wood-carving. I was childishly pleased to have a friend, and had been much struck by this open advance of Don Enrico; but after a time I found that his advances were not so disinterested as I had at first believed. He was engaged on making a large cabinet as a wedding present for his daughter. The front was being decorated with carved nudes copied from Bougereau; but for one part he needed accessory figures to fit a shape. These his skill was unable to design, and he had wormed himself into my friendship partly in order to get a couple of free sketches from which he could work. In spite of the fact that there were four chemists in the village, Don Enrico made a comfortable living with extremely little work; and no wonder, if sickness is as prevalent as the little I have experienced would prove. Spanish curative methods still prefer magic potions to hygiene, and Don Enrico charged up to 500 per cent profit on his goods, selling aspirin, for instance, at
21d. per tablet. His house was palatial, with broad carved staircases, ornamented ceilings, and some very decent old pictures inherited from his greatgrandfather. His daughters played abominable music on a piano excruciatingly out of tune, and his wife cooked the dinner.
I had, of course, confided in Don Enrico the progress of the Miguel affair. He came in after supper, and I told him of my double rebuff. Then I added without thought," But I know a fellow in Paris. Even if I don't get cash out of Miguel, he'll make a fine comic yarn of it for an English paper. So I'll get something out of it after all. And, of course, the judge going to bed is the cream of the joke!"
Don Enrico guffawed insincerely. He sat on for a few moments as if something were tickling him. Then he bounced up, seized his straw-hat, and said
"Excuse me, dear friend, a few minutes only," and bolted.
He came back after a time, sat down once more, cleared his throat, and said, with a nervous giggle
"If you go to see the judge to-morrow morning I think the matter can be arranged.”
Do you know why the good old British Press holds the whole of the uncivilised part of the Continent in terror? You could yell threats about the French Press or the German Press till you were blue, and not a shiver would you get; but wave the poor old Times
or the Morning Post' before give the story to an English them, and their blood runs cold. What on earth possible damage could the high bug-abugs of Caldoz fear from a pillory in the British Press? However, it made them quake; so much the better for me.
journalist; so that the more trouble I get the more amusing will be the account. By the way, I hope, Señor Judge, that you are feeling better to-day."
This set them all wringing their hands.
"No, no!" they cried. "You mustn't write about us. Please write about something else."
"Well," I answered, "I must get my recompense somehow. And," I added mendaciously, "I can write to the British Consul, too. That will make a lot of trouble. Believe me, it will be much simpler to make Miguel pay up."
Why not say as much to the biltong. Miguel?"
I only shrugged my shoulders. A Latin understands talk, he blooms in eloquence, but human silence is sinister to him. The judge, his clerk, and the portly adviser were worried men. They floated between the Scylla of making a fellow - villager pay up and the Charybdis of the British Consul and the ridicule